FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – New England Revolution defender Dave Romney picked the perfect time to net his first MLS goal for the club.
The center back notched the game-winning effort in Saturday’s crucial 2-1 triumph over Charlotte FC at Gillette Stadium, as the hosts lifted themselves to third in the Eastern Conference table, reigniting the push for homefield advantage in the 2023 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs.
With Karol Świderski having tied the game 89 seconds prior (after Noel Buck had broken the deadlock), Romney rose to head home his first regular season strike of 2023, snatching a precious three points. Naturally, the 30-year-old could not hide his delight in the celebrations but ever humble, the man who is becoming known as the Revolution’s ‘Mr. Reliable’ shifted the focus from his individual contribution to the collective effort of the squad, and the notable significance of the victory.
“It felt great!” he grinned. “I’ve had a lot of close chances this year, so it was nice to finally put one away.
“It’s just great to get back in the win column. We’d had a couple of games in a row where we’d lost leads late, and we did it again – and it was the same horrible feeling.
“The only thing different in those games is that they scored with the last kick of the game, so we couldn’t even have a chance to come back.
“It was nice to get that goal in there and hopefully, get the monkey off our back of not having a [recent] win. Points are vital right now so it’s huge.”
Romney – a January arrival from Nashville SC – has played every minute of MLS action this term.
A consistent and calming influence in the backline, his experience and leadership have proven valuable assets as the team have endured enforced absences through the backline with injury, suspension and international duty.
The squad are also in the process of negotiating tactical changes with interim head coach Clint Peay opting to utilize inverted fullbacks in recent weeks, and Romney asserts the players are starting to settle into the new system.
“We're just building out from the back with three center backs instead of a four backline,” he explained.
“It's definitely different from our vantage point – what kind of different looks you have, because we have so many guys congested in the midfield.
“You’ve got to get used to those patterns and plays to look for, and the more we do it, the more comfortable we’ll be.”
With the victory over Charlotte, New England continue to stand as the only side to remain undefeated at home in 2023 (boasting a superb record of 11-0-4), and welcome the Columbus Crew to Foxborough on Wednesday.
In a useful test of their postseason credentials, the Revolution face four of the East’s current top seven (including second-placed Orlando City SC and fourth-placed Philadelphia Union) in the remaining regular season matches, and are ready for a stern challenge to secure homefield advantage in the playoffs.
Romney’s late winner against the Crown further served to cement Gillette Stadium’s status as a fortress, and with an excellent crowd of 37,701 showing up to support the Revs, the defender highlighted the importance of playing at home in the team’s quest for silverware.
“It's huge,” he declared. “[On Wednesday] we’re against a team we're fighting really closely with in the playoffs.
“We play really tough teams in these last four games, so it’s kind of getting ready for the playoffs, which is nice.
“All these points against these teams are six-point games, honestly – whether it’s three points our way or their way.”